This year’s theme for the March for Life, “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman,” is likely to resonate with the thousands of college students who will travel to Washington, D.C.—especially those from America’s most faithful Catholic colleges.
For decades, radical pro-abortion feminism has dominated higher education. But at the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong Catholic identity, students find a much healthier respect for the dignity of women and children.
Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., is home to one of the most innovative pro-life, pro-woman initiatives: a residence named MiraVia for pregnant college students, which draws women from across the country. MiraVia not only provides free room and board but also all the help that expectant moms may need to continue pursuing their educational goals, such as childcare, life skills classes, and material assistance.
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“The unique partnership between Belmont Abbey and MiraVia required a leap of faith for both organizations,” says Debbie Capen, executive director of MiraVia, which opened in 2013. “It began with a shared vision to make abortion unthinkable for college students who face unplanned pregnancies, and the results have exceeded our wildest expectations.” MiraVia has housed 25 residents, in addition to providing support and guidance to dozens of other pregnant students.
“We have seen that there are countless benefits to creating maternity housing on campus for both our clients and the broader community,” explains Capen. “Not only do our clients receive the support they need to continue their pregnancies and their education, but the student body and community see the beauty of choosing life.”
A spokesman for the college, Rolando Rivas, agrees that the “students see MiraVia on our campus as a clear demonstration that Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” Students from the college volunteer at MiraVia to help with childcare and other projects around the residence.
At another faithful Catholic college, a student recently shared her story about the support she received when she found out she was facing an unexpected pregnancy.
Marygrace Tucker, a graduate of Christendom College in Front Royal, VA, discovered she was expecting just weeks before her senior year of college. She described the “amazing support” of the Christendom community, who helped her graduate with her one-month-old daughter in her arms.
“I was allowed to attend classes in whatever I was most comfortable wearing, despite the professional dress code requirement. When I could no longer fit in the desks, I took a lawn chair and sat comfortably through class. In addition, they allowed me to have snacks during the long night classes,” Tucker explained.
“My fellow classmates treated me amazingly well, and the junior and senior girls even threw me a baby shower, where I received the most beautiful gifts and memories that I will always treasure,” she continued.
You don’t need to look long or hard to find ways that faithful Catholic colleges manage to take a stand against abortion, while also providing help to mothers in crisis pregnancy situations.
Many Newman Guide colleges have large, active pro-life groups. They organize activities such as praying outside of abortion clinics, assisting at local pregnancy resource centers, and hosting diaper drives.
Mary Kate Tomassi, treasurer of the Crusaders for Life club at the University of Dallas in Irving, TX, says that the club is “focusing this coming Spring 2020 semester on beginning an endowed scholarship for pregnant and parenting undergraduate and graduate students to aid them in continuing their education while being parents.”
The Ravens Respect Life group at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, recently hosted a training session to teach students how to dialogue and defend the pro-life position. After the training, some students took their knowledge to evangelize on the University of Kansas campus.
Students from Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, N.H., are involved in the policy side of the pro-life movement. “We have had female students advocate for life at the New Hampshire legislature in recent years, addressing legislative committees, working as interns with state pro-life organizations, and supporting diocesan efforts to build the Culture of Life,” the college reports.
And this semester, Magdalen students will have the unique opportunity to make a retreat with the Sisters of Life and will visit the order again during spring break.
The work that faithful Catholic colleges—and the students who attend them—are doing to protest abortion, support women in crisis pregnancy situations, and educate and form faithful Catholic women should be applauded and upheld as a model for other colleges.
Every woman who attends a Catholic college should learn about the inherent dignity of the human person and the truth about human sexuality and marriage. She should be prepared for her life and for her vocation, which for many will be marriage and motherhood.
Aja McCarthy, a graduate of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H., says that the college helped prepare her for the “vocation of wife and mother in various ways.”
“Dorm living taught me about the art of living with others; managing spiritual duties, academic responsibilities, and community life showed me the value of an ordered day and the peaceful satisfaction it brings; witnessing the faculty families at Mass, banquets, and other formal and informal occasions introduced me to the attractive joys of family life,” she says. “Such experiences planted seeds of desire—for the first time—for the vocation [of being a wife and mother].”
“The most significant way in which the College prepared me for the roles of wife and mother,” she continues, “was by teaching me what I did not know… My time at Thomas More College taught me that the Church, in her incredible maternal wisdom—the fruit of centuries of philosophy, theology, tradition, and revelation—offers answers to correct my ignorance. She is the ultimate guide to living my vocation. Without my years at college, I would have been left with myself as a guide instead.”
Another young wife and alumna mother, Erin Kamprath, says that Thomas More College helped her become a “better educator” for her children by providing her with “first-hand knowledge of what is involved in a true education.”
“True education of the whole person takes place in a culture of prayer, community, and beauty,” explains Kamprath. “That is the kind of culture we enjoyed at TMC, and that is the kind of culture I am now striving to create in my own home for our growing family.”
Thomas More College “celebrates the many alumnae who have made great personal, professional and financial sacrifices to embrace their vocation as mothers,” according to Amy Fahey, a fellow at the College, recognizing that “motherhood is under assault in mainstream culture.”
Most colleges “promote sexual promiscuity, birth control, abortion-on-demand and gender confusion,” says Fahey. Thomas More College and many other faithful Catholic colleges offer students something different: an introduction to “what it means to live a good life.”
When Catholic education is done well, it is a great blessing for its students and the community at large. Faithful Catholic education can go a long way in rebuilding a pro-life culture in our country, one graduate at a time.